Bill Gates, "Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we're pursuing"

A lot of Microsoft fans were disappointed when Microsoft announced that Courier project had been canceled.  While no one on the outside knows for sure why it was canceled, many suspect that the device will live on in another project in the near future.

Bill Gates, according to gurufocus.com, is reported to have said “Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we're pursuing. We think that work with the pen that Microsoft pioneered will become a mainstream for students. It can give you a device that you can not only read, but also create documents at the same time.

What Bill Gates is describing sounds very similar to the Courier concept that was shown off.  It was a pen based input system that allowed you to not only read on the device, but to also create documents.  For those who were waiting for the Courier from Microsoft, it’s probably safe to say that the device is still coming but it won’t be as soon as you might have hoped. 

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All I want is a freaking netbook with the keyboard cutoff and a REAL operating system. That's it I like the slate form factor and would use a deivce like this everyday. I do not want a watered down mobile OS with limited options and uses or something in an enclosed eco system.

Just give me a REAL OS with netbook specs and speed and I'll be happy.

Sucks the HP slate may be canceled as it met my needs perfectly.

As long as it comes with a camera, flash support, a usb port, replaceable battery, has printer support, and can do multitasking; they will be miles ahead of the current competition. Hell, if it can load a .pdf in under 3 minutes, it will be way ahead. Horrible Ipad, can't believe people bought it after I tried it out. Though it was good at wasting a couple minutes of time on doing nothing, but for $500 bucks, I could go do that in a much better way, many many times over.

Microsoft can do this.

Sure they were 10 years ahead of everyone else but practice makes perfect. They'll get it right just like they did with the Zune.

It's been renamed Microsoft Parcel Tablet. It's true a homeless man told me! But seriously I think tablets are way too young. I'll wait for them to hit puberty at least. By the way I don't talk to homeless people much... Just kidding I do.

Can't wait for someone to put out a hybrid pen/touch tablet. I've owned convertible tablets and you are always having to dock or swivel around a keyboard for decent typing. The touch model helps with this a-la iPad but it loses the single thing that made tablets awesome...note taking, handwriting recognition, drawing, drafting, and any other thing that works great with a pen. OneNote alone made owning a tablet amazing and a boon for meetings.

If they can put out a good hybrid with a touch screen and an active digitizer I will spend up to maybe $800 for one.

Microsoft does a lot of research, and actually pushes few new products to the market. If you want to follow news on research projects and prototypes thinking that the will be marketed, you sure are bound to be disappointed

Tablets don't materialize out of thin air. Did you expect Microsoft to just pull a tablet out of a hat or do you not understand how technology goes from concept to reality?

.Neo said,
Oh yeah sorry I forgot! Microsoft only started thinking about this today...

Anyone can just make a bigger version of the iPhone and call it a day you know? Trying to come up with something different with something more than just a desktop OS or a smartphone OS port takes time regardless of who you are.

Why are those Android tablets taking so long I wonder?

.Neo said,
Oh yeah sorry I forgot! Microsoft only started thinking about this today...

Don't forget the original video the Courier was shown to us in stated that it was a "vision for computing 10 years from now". So thats about 2017ish.

I'm sure they have advanced their plans a bit but I'm guessing they are thinking "we want to get this right first time", baring in mind their early attempts at Tablet PC's in the early 2000's. Although the iPad has sold a lot already, it has the Apple zazztrain driving it at the moment, something Microsoft doesn't have. They need something "gripping" and are searching hard for it.

GP007 said,
Anyone can just make a bigger version of the iPhone and call it a day you know?

Yet no one really did, at least not with huge success...

GP007 said,
Trying to come up with something different with something more than just a desktop OS or a smartphone OS port takes time regardless of who you are.

Apparently using a smartphone OS is the way to go. HP dumped their Windows 7 Slate (Microsoft so proudly presented) to go with a modified version of Palm's WebOS instead and others are either using Android or some other scaled down Linux version.

Edited by .Neo, May 4 2010, 5:18pm :

pasty2k2 said,

Don't forget the original video the Courier was shown to us in stated that it was a "vision for computing 10 years from now". So thats about 2017ish.

I'm sure they have advanced their plans a bit but I'm guessing they are thinking "we want to get this right first time", baring in mind their early attempts at Tablet PC's in the early 2000's. Although the iPad has sold a lot already, it has the Apple zazztrain driving it at the moment, something Microsoft doesn't have. They need something "gripping" and are searching hard for it.

Since Courier was just a project inside MSR I think they saw the interest online about it and decided to shift that somewhere else (maybe to a new project), I doubt the fact they "killed" Courier means they totally scrapped any advances in the software/tech they made.

Media Center, Zune, Surface, and others, started off as MSR projects.

GP007 said,

Since Courier was just a project inside MSR I think they saw the interest online about it and decided to shift that somewhere else (maybe to a new project), I doubt the fact they "killed" Courier means they totally scrapped any advances in the software/tech they made.

Media Center, Zune, Surface, and others, started off as MSR projects.

Exactly what I mean - it's not that they've just "reset" their vision all of a sudden. Now its gotten a bit clearer thanks to Courier and other MSR projects as you stated. To talk in metaphors.

It just means we don't know what to expect from the next actual device they launch from MSR, but it will probably have been designed with research from this concept in mind.

.Neo said,
Apparently using a smartphone OS is the way to go. HP dumped their Windows 7 Slate (Microsoft so proudly presented) to go with a modified version of Palm's WebOS instead and others are either using Android or some other scaled down Linux version.

HP just want to release a product now because they have plenty of hardware ready to design with. They need a good OS and software platform for it, and the Courier looked like a good candidate for that.

Now that Microsoft have decided to expand the Courier concept, it's not suitable right now for HP to use, so they need to choose someone else. Next best choice in HP's eyes? The newly acquired Palm clearly.

.Neo said,

Yet no one really did, at least not with huge success...


Apparently using a smartphone OS is the way to go. HP dumped their Windows 7 Slate (Microsoft so proudly presented) to go with a modified version of Palm's WebOS instead and others are either using Android or some other scaled down Linux version.

No one bothered to try? And the smartphone market wasn't as big as it is now or growing like it is now back in 2000. That aside most business "tablets" or rugged devices out there use some custom version of Windows CE or Windows Embedded. The other hybrid tablet/laptops ofc used desktop Windows and you could buy those for years.

AS for the 2nd part, that was my point. HP is going to use a custom version of WebOS, they're not going to just take what's on the Pre and slap it on a tablet. Same with Android, otherwise we would've seen android tablets by now, yet they're still not out. You can't just take something that works on another form factor and slap it on really. Even the iPad is a custom OS job of sorts.

.Neo said,
"pursuing" huh? Great for them...

I would rather have someone do proper research that to just enlarge something they already have and toss it out as a new product. I dunno, i am funny that way I guess.

GP007 said,

Anyone can just make a bigger version of the iPhone and call it a day you know? Trying to come up with something different with something more than just a desktop OS or a smartphone OS port takes time regardless of who you are.

Why are those Android tablets taking so long I wonder?

Actually MS launched "Tablet" computers years ago, both as "Slate" and "Convertible".
The iPad is more a copy of the 2001/2002 MS "Smart Display" project, if I remember correctly the codename was "Mira". It was abandoned in late 2003 because it was still ahead of its time and both hardware and software were not up to the task.

techbeck said,

I would rather have someone do proper research than to just enlarge something they already have and toss it out as a new product. I dunno, i am funny that way I guess.

iPad = iPod touch with bigger screen? oh, and e-books, excuse me.

Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we're pursuing.

Maybe they should consider focusing on one tablet project and make it super awesome. Like they did with the Zune HD.

Shadrack said,

Maybe they should consider focusing on one tablet project and make it super awesome. Like they did with the Zune HD.

Well, if they wanted to do a end-to-end device, then maybe, but if they just want to set a platform they'll leave the rest up to partners yet again.

Shadrack said,

Maybe they should consider focusing on one tablet project and make it super awesome. Like they did with the Zune HD.

I'd buy a Zune tablet....

GP007 said,

Well, if they wanted to do a end-to-end device, then maybe, but if they just want to set a platform they'll leave the rest up to partners yet again.

Well, there are pros and cons to either approach. The pros that I can think of off the top of my head are:
* Healthy competition within a platform
* More hardware choices mean users are more likely to get something closer to what they want

Cons:
* Harder to support across different hardware
* Some bad hardware from a crap producer could potentially taint the whole platform. In fact, I think that is why so many non-tech-savvy people don't like Windows. They bought some POS computer at some point in their life. That POS may have a brand name on the computer, but all they see is Windows, Windows, Windows on their monitors. Probably are not tech-savvy enough to tell that it was the POS hardware and not Windows.

Shadrack said,

Maybe they should consider focusing on one tablet project and make it super awesome. Like they did with the Zune HD.

I agree with you, one tablet with many features would give consumers less to be confused about and more bang for their buck.

Shadrack said,

Well, there are pros and cons to either approach. The pros that I can think of off the top of my head are:
* Healthy competition within a platform
* More hardware choices mean users are more likely to get something closer to what they want

Cons:
* Harder to support across different hardware
* Some bad hardware from a crap producer could potentially taint the whole platform. In fact, I think that is why so many non-tech-savvy people don't like Windows. They bought some POS computer at some point in their life. That POS may have a brand name on the computer, but all they see is Windows, Windows, Windows on their monitors. Probably are not tech-savvy enough to tell that it was the POS hardware and not Windows.

Yeah, I agree with your assessment of why some people may not like Windows... When something happens, they DO blame Windows, and it is likely HP, or Compaq, or something... As for Microsoft making their own Tablet, I personally think that it would drive the technology forward. If they were to release something like The Courier, can you imagine what that would do for slates? That's what the industry needs I think.

Shadrack said,
Well, there are pros and cons to either approach. The pros that I can think of off the top of my head are:
* Healthy competition within a platform
* More hardware choices mean users are more likely to get something closer to what they want

Cons:
* Harder to support across different hardware
* Some bad hardware from a crap producer could potentially taint the whole platform. In fact, I think that is why so many non-tech-savvy people don't like Windows. They bought some POS computer at some point in their life. That POS may have a brand name on the computer, but all they see is Windows, Windows, Windows on their monitors. Probably are not tech-savvy enough to tell that it was the POS hardware and not Windows.

The cons were addressed in WP7 for instance with a minimum requirement HW spec with rather strict guidelines. They will, however, never get around dumb users.

Vice said,
I thought that HP Slate would be a good Win 7 tablet. Shame it got canceled I guess.

I think it is caused because the trend of sales of the Ipad. Ipad sold "only" 1 million of units then the market showed signs of saturation.

In opposite, the e-ink market is still wealthy and stable, the netbook market is expanding and the notebook and cellphone market is yet the king of the hill.

Vice said,
I thought that HP Slate would be a good Win 7 tablet. Shame it got canceled I guess.

I think there's quite a few things going on, HP will go with WebOS now that they grabbed Palm up, just doing a win7 tablet isn't enough really. That said, MS probably has a few different ideas cooking right now. The Courier project at MSR getting closed 2 or so days after Windows 7 embedded went RTM doesn't seem like a coincidence imo.

Vice said,
I thought that HP Slate would be a good Win 7 tablet. Shame it got canceled I guess.

So was I, but I just snatched up a new ASUS Eee PC T101MT over at Newegg that is the same thing, except is a convertable netbook. Added bonuses are you have access to the battery, memory, and hard drive, which wasn't possible with the slate.

Magallanes said,

I think it is caused because the trend of sales of the Ipad. Ipad sold "only" 1 million of units then the market showed signs of saturation.

Agreed, except that the iPad is NOT a full fledged computer that can run any OS applications, etc. That's why I didn't buy 1 (and I was planning to buy 4!).

The slate would have run Windows 7 and I would have bought those, oh yes.

Magallanes said,
I think it is caused because the trend of sales of the Ipad. Ipad sold "only" 1 million of units then the market showed signs of saturation.

Signs of saturation? 1 million in 28 days, only in the USA!!.. Apple is also saying they sold 300,000 units of the 3G device in the weekend it was out. Where is the saturation you're talking about? I'd say it's pretty fantastic for a device that is NOT a full fledged computer.

TruckWEB said,

Where is the saturation you're talking about?

You just quoted the figures that show that...high initial sales by early adopters/faithful/fans and then sales trickling down since then.

The iPad is a great jumbo version of the iPod Touch...nothing more. And the market was hoping for something MUCH more.